Torstar, the parent company of Harlequin has started a SHITSTORM with Harlequin Horizons which is basically a vanity publisher that Harlequin will be 'mentioning' to all writers it rejects. Nice, huh?
As if it's not bad enough to receive a rejection letter, theirs will now say, "Oh, and by the way we'd also like to rip you off by selling you a bunch of crap (overpriced useless marketing tools, editing services, etc.) to cash in on your hopeless dream of becoming a published author, you talentless LOSER."
The RWA (Romance Writers of America) has responded by telling Harlequin it will no longer receive many privileges (free rooms, space at signing tables, etc.) at the RWA annual conference. RWA does not recognize vanity publishers, so Harlequin is now out. How RWA and Harlequin are going to manage without each other is a big question mark. I am not writing for Harlequin, but the situation is of great interest to me because the publishing industry IS changing, and I think this is just the beginning of what will definitely be a rough ride. I'm really happy that RWA told Torstar where to stick their vanity press.
I'm not saying there's no place for self publishing, where a writer basically pays to have his or her book printed, but then also makes 100% of the profit. Some successful writers started this way and it is a viable route for some people. That is not what Harlequin is doing in my opinion. They are tying to cash in on their slush pile by ripping off writers who don't know better or are desperate enough to do whatever it takes to get "published."
Here's an excellent explanation of the situation from author Jackie Kessler: Harlequin Horizons vs RWA, and an update The Day After: Harlequin Blinks.